Dune by Frank Herbert
|Formatt:||Paperback / Audio Book / eBook|
|Genre(s):||Science Fiction / Space Opera|
There is a special place in my heart for Dune, and I am sure there always will be one. The first time I picked up the book, I was just a child, and while most of it flew straight over my head, I was still immediately sucked into the world of Arrakis and Paul Muad’dib, and could not put it down. Later on, I picked it up again, and I was sucked in with the same ferocity, and found myself mystified by the writing once more, with new mysteries around each page, which I had never seen before.
I am not alone, as Dune received the Hugo Award in 1966, and then also received the first Nebula Award for the Best Novel. Over the years, it has inspired a movie, a television miniseries, multiple video games, and a countless number of authors, who have taken Herbert’s lead and reached for the stars.
Dune opens not with a scene, but with an excerpt from another “text”, a book within a book, a history written by Princess Irulan, one of the characters, about Muad’dib, another character whom we know nothing about yet. This format is continued throughout, major scene breaks headed by a quote from a book either by Princess Irulan or someone else in this created universe.
The density of this book, both of unfamiliar terms and philosophy, sociology, and political intrigue, can be off putting, but I highly recommend working through it. On the first page alone there are at least ten terms or names which are from Herbert’s created universe, and the second page has quite a few more, but the long haul is worth it.
Dune, at its heart, is a coming of age story, only it is set 10,000 years in the future, a future in which computers and artificial intelligence are illegal because of a war where the machines rose up, and such functions are replaced by people who have been trained to operate, for all intensive purposes, as human computers.
Paul Atreides is just a boy at the beginning of the book, a boy who may be the prophesized Kwisatz Haderach, the result of generations of Bene Gesserit controlled breeding to make what they consider the perfect human. We follow Paul as his family, House Atreides, takes control of Arrakis, the sole planet that produces the spice, and then has to fight to keep control of the planet, even as the whole galaxy seems to turn against them.
Most of the book takes place on the planet Arrakis, better known as Dune, though Herbert occasionally takes up to other planets, such as the one the Emperor rules from, the home planet of House Atreides, and the home planet of their bitter rivals, House Harkonnen. This, however, does not detract from the vast reach of the book, or the telling.
Herbert takes us to the remote Seitches of Arrakis, submerging us in the culture of the people, while introducing us slowly into the political intrigue between the Bene Gesserit and the other organizations of this universe Herbert created. It makes for a deep, fully involving experience, rich with foreign languages, religions, superstitions, and more.
Through the course of Dune, we watch Paul grow from a child into a young man, and then into the legendary Muad’dib, as he fights to survive in the political turmoil which erupts on Arrakis and against the harsh desert.
As a study in world building, Dune still stands above many others in the genre. The book comes with a full array of appendices in the back, covering ecological reports of Arrakis, the religion of Arrakis, a report on Bene Gesserit motives and purposes, brief commentary on the noble houses, and a dictionary of terminology, which is very useful, as Herbert fills the book with terms, which are unique to his created universe. Over the years, I have gone through and read them all, and it has only made me more interested in the universe. To this day, I am still in awe of just how far Herbert went for this book.
Dune is the first in a series, part of which was written by Frank Herbert, part of which was written by his son, Brian Herbert, and another writer. I have not read the entirety of the series, but have them waiting on my bookshelf to finish. Dune Messiah is the second in the series, and picks up after the events of Dune, continuing the saga of Muad’dib and the war he created.